Life is a series of great adventures. Some are of the sunshine and margaritas on the beach variety; others are grueling climbs up muddy mountain paths with a worn pack and blisters.
I enjoy both (despite what I may mutter under my breath at times) which is fortunate because my first three semesters at Booth have been an epic adventure full of write-home-to-your-mom highlights and I-am-going-to-pull-all-my-hair-out lowlights.
To give you a little background, I am one of ninety-four motivated, impatient, bright, tired, successful, yearning, questioning, and sometimes whining EMBA students at Chicago Booth – graduating class of 2012. I started this journey last June with the support and encouragement of my employer a small company providing a financial & technical management/insurance product to owners of business and private aircraft.
Reporting directly to the CEO and Private Equity owners, 17 hour days and 6 day weeks were not uncommon but none-the-less, in a moment of pure insanity, I decided I wanted to shore up my meager, (ok let’s be honest, nonexistent) financial and business fundamentals. In my opinion there was no better place than Booth to do that. The school excelled in all the areas that I did not.
I was running the Customer Service, Collections and HR departments and overseeing Office Services for several offices around the world. I received financial statements on a monthly basis but didn’t really know what I should be getting out of them. Fortunately I was good at a few other things so this didn’t seem to concern others as much as it did me. I could get by in meetings and regularly bribed our patient accountants with burgers and beer so that they would explain things like “Goodwill” to me, but I knew this was just scratching the surface. I didn’t want to fake it anymore.
I’ll write more about the course schedule and curriculum in future posts but will tell you now that the first quarter of Financial Accounting and Micro Economics (did I mentioned I hadn’t taken a math class since high school?) were like running into a grizzly bear who had not eaten all winter on that grueling mountain path I mentioned earlier. Terrifying.
I put my head down, latched on to a few people that seemed like they might be helpful and started running…fast. I have to put in some extra effort to keep pace with the financial professionals in my class but there is no better way to learn to run faster than to train with people who are quicker than you.
I ended up leaving my company at the end of the year so I can now focus more time on school. That decision allows me to take advantage of the myriad opportunities to explore new projects with my classmates and the extensive network of alumni and community partners that Booth has opened up for me. This career break is giving me a chance to catch my breath but somehow it seems that I often have more on my calendar now than I did when working full time! Starting the program with such a demanding job made me realize just how much I was capable of accomplishing and it’s a little hard to stop running after your hit you stride.
I look forward to sharing more of my thoughts about school over the coming months but I am now off to analyze the inventory management process for L.L. Bean…fascinating!
Elizabeth Rogers, an Executive MBA student at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, blogs about her journey through an EMBA program for Poets&Quants.